A notable feature of the Blue Bulls’ Currie Cup win over the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on the opening weekend of the competition was that although they only enjoyed about 40% of possession, they spent around 60% of the game in the home side’s territory, which suggests the faith placed in young flyhalf Manie Libbok to drive them tactically is paying off.
ALSO READ: Jesse’s Springbok snub is Bulls’ gain
And it is also clear that the 21-year-old, who was mostly used as a fullback last year, enjoys being in the hot seat.
“I’m definitely very happy at flyhalf, it’s my number one position and I think I offer more there because I want the ball in my hands. What we are chasing is getting the ball in space and putting our forwards on the front foot. If you can get go-forward ball then you’re always in the game. The kicking game is very important.
“I’ve been working very hard on my basics and all-round game and making sure I sharpen up my skills. John Mitchell gave me a lot of help, he taught me a lot I didn’t know about the game. He had confidence in me, I think because I learnt quite quickly, and he backed me to do the job, for which I’m very grateful,” Libbok said at Loftus Versfeld.
Having a leading coach guiding him was obviously a boost to Libbok’s career, but it also did no harm that the Eastern Cape product had a top-class role model in Dan Carter.
“Dan Carter is the guy I really looked up to because of his skillset, his calmness on the field and the way he drives his team around the park. As flyhalf, you’re the guy who must put the team in the right areas, you have to move them around and get them into better positions and space, that creates opportunities. To be honest, I believe I have a very good feel for the game,” Libbok said.
The former SA Under-20 star will get a good measure of his progress when he comes up against the experienced Robert du Preez in the Blue Bulls’ clash with the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.